A distillery’s history can be traced and tracked to the present day. There are public records to peruse; there are fans and historians who have written about them, and there’s the Internet. Occasionally, you run across a distillery with a clouded history. Such is the case with Loch Lomond Distillery.
What is known is the distillery was first established in 1814 near Tarbet, which is at the north end of Loch Lomond. Beyond that is anyone’s guess. Record-keeping was minimal, and no one is sure when it eventually was dismantled. However, in 1965, the former owners of Littlemill Distillery founded the new Loch Lomond Distillery, located in the village of Bowling, Scotland, placing it in Scotland’s Highland region.
Loch Lomond Distillery was shuttered in 1984, and it wasn’t until three years later that Alexander Bulloch and the Glen Catrine Bonded Warehouse, Ltd. purchased it and resumed distilling malt whisky. Then, in 1993, it added grain whisky to its portfolio. At that time, Loch Lomond was the only Scottish distillery producing malt and grain whiskies.
The distillery also has an operational cooperage, placing it in an unusual position compared to most others. It processes about 10,000 barrels annually. Loch Lomond’s master blender is Michael Henry, and the distillery credits both him and its unique pot stills as what differentiates its whisky from what others offer:
“The uniqueness of our pot malt stills rest in the cylindrical necks of the spirit stills. Traditionally the necks of malt stills are open. The Loch Lomond stills include special distillation trays in the necks, allowing for greater contact with the cooling alcohol vapour. This makes the process more efficient.
These stills can produce alcohol up to 90% ABV where normal stills deliver the alcohol at around 70% ABV. This style of still allows for different ‘flavour notes’ to be captured and emphasised through the range of alcohol strengths that can be captured and rejected. This is much more difficult to achieve through a conventional pot still.” – Loch Lomond Distillers
The Loch Lomond Distillery is part of the Loch Lomond Group, which also owns Campbeltown’s Glen Scotia, Highland’s Inchmoan, and a host of other brands.
Today I’m exploring Loch Lomond Inchmoan 12-Year Single Malt Whisky. This Scotch is aged at least a dozen years in both refill and re-charred American oak casks. The distillate comes from both the traditional swan-neck pot still and its straight-neck pot still. Non-chill filtered and packaged at 46% ABV (92°), a 750ml bottle can be acquired for around $45.00. It is billed as a sweet and smoky whisky, which makes sense since it utilizes peat-dried malted barley.
I procured a 50ml taster at a random liquor store in 2022. Let’s #DrinkCurious and discover what this whisky is all about.
Appearance: I sipped this Scotch neat from my Glencairn glass. The liquid appeared as deep copper, and a wide rim remained on the wall as I tilted the glass, and it just stuck there like glue. Some legs formed, but they didn’t do much. Admittedly, that was unusual and unexpected.
Nose: As I brought my face to the glass, I wallowed in the aroma of earthy peat, rich vanilla, and a touch of saline. Further sniffs unveiled light oak and pear. When I parted my lips and inhaled, there was more pear. Nothing was overpowered; things just meshed as if by design.
Palate: The mouthfeel was thin and on the weak side. The front of my palate plucked earthy peat, citrus, and pear. Midway through, I tasted salted caramel and nuts, while the back featured barrel char, fresh-cracked black pepper, and clove.
Finish: The peat was the most identifiable note in the finish; however, you can’t discount the clove, oak, black pepper, and brine that remained. Medium in duration, it provided a kiss of smokiness that made me smile.
Bottle, Bar, or Bust: Some people don’t like peated whiskies. I’m not in that category; I love it and once I smell it in a glass, what I’m drinking gets my full, undivided attention. My only real gripe is that the finish was too short. It forced me to return for another sip to keep the flavors going. But, what I did taste was enjoyable. In my opinion, you’ll get your $45.00 worth and then some, which makes this an easy Bottle rating. Cheers!
My Simple, Easy-to-Understand Rating System
- Bottle = Buy It
- Bar = Try It
- Bust = Leave It
Whiskeyfellow encourages you to enjoy your whiskey as you see fit but begs you do so responsibly.